Detroit City Council November 2 Election Candidate Guide
Voters head to the polls on November 2 to cast their votes for local leaders, ballot proposals and more.
Get to know the candidates running for local office in your community with 101.9 FM WDET’s Candidate Guides. Surveys were distributed to candidates to complete and you can see the responses for candidates for Dearborn Heights Mayor below.
Related Race: Detroit Mayor, Detroit City Clerk
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Current job: Council Member At-Large (City of Detroit)
Education: Bowling Green State University, B.A Political Science and Public Policy
About Janeé Ayers: For the past six years, I have been honored to serve the people of Detroit.
Before joining Detroit City Council, I worked as a hospitality worker at MGM Grand Casino, I become a member of the UNITEHERE! Local 24 contract bargaining team, negotiating on behalf of thousands of hospitality workers with some of the region’s largest employers. The labor movement is where I found my voice as a former Vice President of the Metro AFL–CIO.
I’ve served Detroit youth at youth recreation programs, and as a teacher at a Detroit Public Schools alternative education facility.
I am a proud graduate of Renaissance High School and Bowling Green State University.
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? As a lifelong Detroiter, this City is an integral part of who I am. In my At Large position, I represent every district and it is my mission to build a better city for ALL Detroiters. My background as a labor organizer and DPS educator taught me how to always fight for the most vulnerable in our city and ensure that all of us have access to jobs and opportunity. Growing up seeing my father go in and out of prison taught me how much that access can change the direction of someone’s life. That’s why I founded the Returning Citizens Task Force, to ensure that people coming out of incarceration have access to jobs, training and housing so they don’t return to a life of crime. It’s why I work to improve and spread awareness of resources for skilled trades training or small businesses. As Chair of the Budget, Finance & Audit and Public Health & Safety committees, I have been committed to a financially strong, safe and vibrant Detroit and worked to ensure that through pragmatic leadership.
“As a lifelong Detroiter, this City is an integral part of who I am. In my At Large position, I represent every district and it is my mission to build a better city for ALL Detroiters.” — Janeê Ayers
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? The next four years are crucial to the financial health of the City. Bankruptcy allowed us to pause some of our financial obligations, particularly our pension obligations. The City’s plan of adjustment created in the bankruptcy process requires us to start making significantly higher contributions to the City’s two pension systems over the next few years. Because of this, financial responsibility and management will be one of my top priorities for this next term.
How would you address that issue? Every year since I’ve been in office, Council and the administration have worked together to maintain a balanced budget and set aside funds to help offset pension payments in the future. If we maintain this course, Detroit will be able to meet its obligations. When it comes time for Council to amend the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, the fact that we have these payments coming up in 2024 is always at the forefront of my mind. I’ve returned $742,555 from my office budget since 2015, and made tough decisions to hold back on spending additional funds on projects and issues that are near and dear to my heart because I know that the future of our city depends on being fiscally responsible during times when it seems like we’re flush with funds. I will maintain the level of fiscal prudence that I’ve always had unless and until the City is able to comfortably meet its future pension obligations.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? A criticism I have in all levels of government is the inadequate outreach to residents regarding education on the vaccine before the rollout. Detroit still ranks far below other major cities in vaccination rates.
Listen to a conversation with Nicole Small:
Courtesy of Mary Waters
Current job: Instructor, Wayne County Community College District
Education: B.A in Communication and Behavioral Sciences, University of Michigan
About Mary Waters: I am a dedicated public servant with a history of community advocacy. I have previously served on the Detroit Charter Commission, and I am a former State Representative for District 4 in the Michigan House of Representatives. In the Michigan House, I had the honor of serving as the first African-American floor leader.
In my personal life, I work as an instructor for the Wayne County Community College District and am a breast cancer survivor. My experiences with breast cancer prompted me to be an active member with the Sister’s Network, an organization dedicated to helping women through breast cancer.
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am seeking an elected position because I see a profound lack in the representation of the will of the people. Elected officials should strive to be the mouthpiece of the people. I believe that listening with care, concern and compassion is the first step to identifying and improving Detroit. Not only that, but I believe that affordable housing, water shut-offs, and home repairs in Detroit are contentious issues. I believe that Detroit can come up with a plan that will protect citizens from the issues that plague them such as water shut-offs, while still supplying the city with the necessary funds to maintain the aging infrastructure. I want to be a part of the conversation that extends beyond temporary aid, and that branches into permanent solutions.
“Elected officials should strive to be the mouthpiece of the people. I believe that listening with care, concern and compassion is the first step to identifying and improving Detroit.” — Mary Waters
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? The single most pressing issue for the entire city is housing. Issues with housing in the city run rampant. There is not enough livable housing, renovation costs are astronomical, property taxes are a significant burden, and homeowners are being crushed under the weight of repairs they cannot afford.
How would you address that issue? If elected, I would focus on working with lenders to fund forgivable loans for home repairs, protecting residents from property tax foreclosure and bringing more actual affordable housing units to the city. There are some citizens who live in deplorable conditions in a home they own, simply because financing for repairs is out of reach. There are already a few banking entities that work with Detroit homeowners, but I would attempt to expand the partnerships and increase the types of financing available for home repairs. I would also seek grant funding and federal programming assistance to ensure success. To shield more Detroiters from property tax foreclosure, I would like to work to intensely promote the Homeowners Property Tax Assistance Program and other flexible payment options offered by both the Detroit Tax Relief Fund and the Wayne County Treasurer’s office. To bring more affordable housing units to the city, my office would need to hold certain corporate entities to their promises of building such units, as well as support smaller development companies who solely focus on affordable, sustainable housing.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? I disagreed with the current Detroit City Council when it approved the use of a facial recognition technology that has been shown to misidentify black and brown people. In a city where a great majority of the population is composed of people of color, it is unacceptable to use a technology that is inaccurate and can lead to the worst imaginable consequences. The use of this technology without proper screening for bias and misidentification is just asking for another way to violate the civil rights of black and brown people.
Listen to a conversation with Coleman Young:
Current job: Media Entrepreneur
Education: Bachelor of Criminal Justice
About Krystal Larsosa: I am a child and youth development professional having worked in the juvenile justice system, the church, and the public school system facilitating safe play, interactive learning as well as art and community activities for children and youth. More important, I’m a mother and wife who sacrificed her career to focus on home, my family’s business interest, as well as my surrounding community. As a result, my husband and our family are held in high regard for all we contribute to the neighborhoods. Our three brilliant Black daughters are A students and at ages 14, 12, and 5 are known nationally as the Hershekissis by over 300k followers on their social media platform dedicated to elevating Black girls. A National media contract secured us financially.
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am running because God has been good to our family and I want to lend my perspective and commitment to spreading our fortune to District 1 and Detroit families. My plan is to advance an equity-informed, neighborhoods-driven agenda for promoting clean, safe and prosperous neighborhoods, elevate the voices of those least heard and to engage people normally ignored and oppressed by the political process and create new inspiration for Black and Brown people, especially youth, to lead through lived experience.
“My plan is to advance an equity-informed, neighborhoods-driven agenda for promoting clean, safe and prosperous neighborhoods, elevate the voices of those least heard and to engage people normally ignored and oppressed by the political process and create new inspiration for Black and Brown people, especially youth, to lead through lived experience.” — Krystal Larsosa
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? The most important issue facing Detroit is on the heels of National protests and a global pandemic exposing both the lasting injustices impacting the Black community as well as citizens ability to pivot for meeting human needs. Detroit has a window of opportunity to become a national model for equity. The country at least for now has an appetite for cities placing a high value on Black and Brown lives. Detroit should be a place that we can be proud of.
How would you address that issue? I will address this issue as a councilwoman by budgeting through common sense. Prioritizing great city services while also assisting Detroiters in building generational wealth through homeownership and renovation programs, investment into locally owned businesses and start-ups, and championing equitable distribution of block grants for home repair. I’ll build a National narrative of Detroit’s greatness and attract new investors, workers, influencers and families. Detroit will be home again.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? There are a number of items which I disagreed with City Council. What comes to mind most immediately are our slanted membership and lease with GLWA, the lease of Belle Isle (what year was that?), the $75 million dollar threshold for CBOs (we need to be at least $50 million) and the rushed vote of Proposal N (I think more time should have been taken to understand it to be sure we got it right). I also believe generally that when it comes to extending jobs and economic opportunity to Detroiters, we need to go big. Requiring participation of at least 50% of Detroiters is literally a half measure. We should be aiming for close to 100%. This would have been my goal through the most recent recreational marijuana ordinance. Detroiters need to be the primary beneficiaries of programs like these. That is the definition of equity.
Age: 46 years old
Current job: Detroit City Councilmember – District 1
Education: BA in Radio/TV/Film from Wayne State University
About James Tate: At 16 years old, I landed my first job as a bagger at the (former) Kroger grocery store at Telegraph and West Chicago. I continued that job even after graduating from Wayne State University. I have been blessed to have experienced continued employment since my time at the grocer. I have also held positions initially as a line worker and then as a quality assurance representative (via promotion) at a national trucking company. I would say that my career in public service began to take shape during my time at WXYZ where I worked my way up from a part-time intern to a full-time position as an assignment editor. I earned an Emmy award in that role but what was most rewarding was learning more about people in general. I also gained knowledge of the extreme levels of need that is often not discussed (even in news reports). From there I served 9 months as the Communications Coordinator with the City of Detroit and was then appointed 2nd Deputy Chief in the Office of Public Information where I served for 5 years until resigning to run for Detroit City Council in April of 2009.
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I believe that I have served the residents of Detroit with integrity throughout my tenure and have always taken care to evaluate every element of any proposal presented to me by residents, the executive branch of our local government as well as the private and non-profit communities that approach the City with plans. I understand that as a public servant and decision-maker, every resident will not always agree with each vote I cast on their behalf. But I make sure to research the matter and more often than not, run the proposals by District 1 (D1) residents to get their take on it in advance of casting my vote.
“I believe that I have served the residents of Detroit with integrity throughout my tenure and have always taken care to evaluate every element of any proposal presented to me by residents, the executive branch of our local government as well as the private and non-profit communities that approach the City with plans.” — James Tate
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? Intergenerational poverty
How would you address that issue? Ensuring that more Detroiters are lifted out of poverty and barriers removed that prevent certain residents from achieving beyond their current financial condition will remain a priority. This really entails much more than making sure that every Detroiter has a job; these jobs or careers must be in fields that allow for financial and professional growth. Addressing the issue of poverty means also focusing on the psychological concerns, transportation issues, food and utility insecurity that so many Detroiters experience every day. I will continue to support funding of programs that provide job training and placement for employment that provides livable wages and valuable skills. I also working with the business and philanthropic communities to help the city better fund these programs.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? While I believed that many elements of Proposal N were meritorious, overall, I did not believe that the proposal that was eventually sent to voters in 2020 provided enough clarity on how the funds would be used once obtained and nor a decisive plan on how the properties that are cleared or rehabbed would be addressed afterward. That was a huge concern of residents in District 1 and it led me to vote in opposition of placing the item on the ballot. I also opposed the previous effort to place Proposal N on the ballot a year earlier because the program at that time focused too heavily on demolition and again had no solid policy that outlined proper maintenance nor disposition post demolition. I was not against blight removal/rehab as a priority, but felt that what was presented lacked the transparency needed to build the trust that so many have lost in city government over the years and this is a huge ask of our residents with major implications if not properly executed.
Candidate did not respond to survey request. View campaign website.
Candidate did not respond to survey request. View campaign website.
Current job: Journalist
Education: Michigan State University, BA in Journalism
About M.L. Elrick: My wife and I have lived on East Outer Drive for more than 22 years, and we raised our two daughters here in East English Village. I am a Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award winning investigative reporter who has covered politics at the local, state and national level for nearly 30 years. I am a union organizer and neighborhood activist, a youth sports coach, school commission member and street representative for my neighborhood association. I am also a volunteer fundraiser and a charity sporting event I created has raised more than $125,000 for Detroit children. I am a creative problem solver dedicated to helping residents and businesses as well as community, religious and labor organizations. My goal is to make sure that the same attention and opportunities available downtown and in Midtown are available to the neighborhoods (in my case, the East Side), while improving safety for residents, workers and visitors and holding developers and public officials accountable for their actions.
“My goal is to make sure that the same attention and opportunities available downtown and in Midtown are available to the neighborhoods (in my case, the East Side), while improving safety for residents, workers and visitors and holding developers and public officials accountable for their actions.” — M.L. Elrick
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am the only person in Detroit politics who exposed the criminality of Gabe Leland and called for his resignation. And he is not the first corrupt public official I exposed and helped remove from public office. I am creative problem solver who builds strategic partnerships to get things done. I am a watchdog who knows how government works and who demands excellence from everyone who draws a public paycheck. And I am a fearless truth teller. My priorities are: Opportunity and equity; safety; and accountability. I will work to make sure the neighborhoods receive the same opportunity to take advantage of the benefits and incentives provided to downtown and the stadium district while holding developers responsible for living up to their end of the deals they make with the city. I will work to increase the number of speed humps installed to slow speeding on residential streets as well as work for reform of the police department to emphasize training officers as guardians rather than warriors, improve officer pay and retention, diversify the job classifications in the police department to include social workers, therapists and specialists trained in de-escalation and building relationships of mutual trust with residents.
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? Creating opportunity in the neighborhoods.
How would you address that issue? By working with city, county, state and federal officials, financial institutions, foundations, non-profits, charities, churches, neighborhood associations, block clubs and businesses to eliminate blight, help homeowners obtain the funds they need to improve their homes, expand recreational opportunities and assist entrepreneurs trying to open small businesses in our commercial districts.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? I was appalled that NO ONE in city hall called for Gabe Leland to resign after I exposed his criminal behavior.
Current job: Acting (unpaid) Executive Director, MECCA Development Corporation
Education: Graduate of Kettering High School, University of Michigan BBA-Finance
About Latisha Johnson: I am a proud native Detroiter who has been serving the city of Detroit for more than 20 years. First, marketing the city to visitors (with the DMCVB) and attracting millions of dollars into the local economy during one of the more distressed times in Detroit’s history. Then in 2007, I began working directly with neighbors. I was elected to the Executive Board of the East English Village (EEV) Neighborhood Association where I spent seven years helping to strengthen and rebuild the far eastside neighborhood. In 2014, I founded the grassroots non-profit MECCA Development Corporation. With development in Detroit on the rise, it was critical that every resident’s voice be heard. For the past seven years, I have partnered with residents to address concerns of well-being, workforce development, youth engagement, and neighborhood revitalization. My leadership has led to the implementation of the Community Closet free store, skill-building programs, and the revitalization of two homes to begin creating affordable housing in the area as we discuss the development of a Community Land Trust.
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? Because after 14 years of listening to and addressing the needs of the community, I am qualified and prepared to assist on a greater scale. I will utilize my lived experiences of growing up in poverty in Detroit, the experience I received on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the city of Detroit, my finance degree and my community experience to continue addressing the needs of the community. I have led with compassion, empathy and integrity and will continue to do so.
“I will utilize my lived experiences of growing up in poverty in Detroit, the experience I received on the Board of Zoning Appeals for the city of Detroit, my finance degree and my community experience to continue addressing the needs of the community.” — Latisha Johnson
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? Equitable development
How would you address that issue? Develop community centers where we can provide skill building programs throughout the city to prepare residents for employment. I will also work to provide support to small businesses and ensure that our neighborhood commercial corridors are engaging with the community and hiring from the community. Lastly, I will create programs that encourage and support owner occupancy and quality, affordable housing throughout our neighborhoods.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? Detroit Land Bank Authority auctions without a focus on stabilizing our neighborhoods by supporting owner-occupancy. The Insurance initiative to allow reductions in PIP without significant premium reductions. Implementation of facial recognition technology. Prioritizing demolitions instead of rehabilitation of homes. The watered down Community Benefits Ordinance. Supporting the hiring of a law firm to counter sue Detroit Will Breath activists.
Current job: Dean of Students for Detroit Public Schools and Founder and President of Caught Up Mentoring
About Toson Jewell Knight: Like many young men, I struggled in high school and found myself running with the wrong crowd leading me to self-destruction. Thankfully, I had a mentor to set me on the right path. I have a B.A. from Oakwood University and a M.A. from the University of Michigan. My story could have ended very differently, but I was lucky to have a mentor guide me to success when others had written me off. I am now a mentor myself and am the founder and president of Caught Up, a non-profit that mentors young men in Detroit. I wanted to “stand in the gap” for others like someone did for me. Through Caught Up, I’ve mentored hundreds of young men that have graduated from college and are now productive citizens giving back to their community. I worked for Mayor Mike Duggan’s office as District Manager for Detroit District 4; serving the community and solving problems. I currently serve as Dean of Students at Western International High School. These experiences taught me how to be an effective public servant. I am dedicated to working with the community and helping resolve their issues to help make positive changes in their everyday lives.
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am running for Detroit City Council because I am a problem solver and want to see my community flourish. Voters should support me because I am a dedicated and passionate public servant that sees his position as a service to the community. I can and will be an effective city councilman for District 4. I want my office to be a one-stop shop for community members to find solutions to problems and where we proactively address systemic issues to improve residents’ quality of life. I have served this community as deputy district manager where I addressed concerns and solved issues. I want to serve this community as a council member where I make decisions on a broader scale. I have the experience and I am passionate and ready to serve.
“Voters should support me because I am a dedicated and passionate public servant that sees his position as a service to the community. I can and will be an effective city councilman for District 4.” — Toson Jewell Knight
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? The most important issue facing my district is the thousands of homeowners whose homes were recently flooded two weeks ago. Many people have experienced this flooding on several occasions.
How would you address that issue? I believe the city must determine what is causing the flooding. From my research it says that Detroit needs to separate its combined water and sewer systems which could cost around $17 billion. We need to work with our neighboring cities, the State of Michigan and the Federal government to fill this funding gap. It is not acceptable for any more resident basements to flood.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? As a City Council member I will be accessible to my residents.vThese type of questions are difficult to answer because I do not have all of the facts in front of me for each decision that was made. Let me be clear, for each major decision that I make at the table, it will be communicated to the residents my reasoning.
Candidate did not respond to survey request.
Current job: Workforce Development Program Manager at the Greening of Detroit, a nonprofit supporting environmental justice.
Education: Some College
About Hector Santiago: I learned the value of faith, community, treating others with respect, and hard work as the oldest of four kids growing up in District 6. My wife Liz and I are raising two girls in Southwest Detroit and help with taking care of my father, who is on dialysis. In my spare time, I coach youth baseball, mentor in conflict resolution, and teach Sunday school. When I was younger, I got a nonviolent offense and participated in a workforce development program. Now, ten years later, I run that program, training the next generation of our workforce and giving them the skills they need while simultaneously helping improve our environment. Teaching our program’s participants has been an incredible opportunity to give back and serve as an example of what’s possible. Later, I successfully completed Project Clean Slate, an expungement program and attended the bill signing. It was then standing with the Mayor, Governor, and Lieutenant Governor when I decided to pursue public service. Project Clean Slate helped me believe in government again. I am running for City Council to fight with everything I’ve got to give back to the city and people that have never turned its back on me.
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am proud to have grown up here, gone to school here, and am raising my kids here. For too long, politicians who only show up during election time have angled for our vote but forgotten about us once they get elected. I am not that person, and will always remain accountable and accessible to the people. That is why if elected, I am committed to hosting regular town halls in every zip code. We cannot just talk to the neighborhoods with the business districts and higher rents when we are talking about jobs and development. When we talk about current development, we must make sure the residents who have lived here for decades have a real seat at the table. In neighborhoods that have been invested in like Downtown and Corktown, we need to think about what our five- and ten-year investment plans for these neighborhoods look like. We need to bring everyone in to drive innovation.
As I speak with residents about their concerns, one thing is clear: our community is yearning for and deserves new leadership with the lived experience to get results. While I might not come from the elite “political insider” circle, I do know the everyday challenges facing the people. I know what it’s like to have to decide between paying rent or the electric bill. I know what it’s like for a potential employer to not give your resume a chance because of the color of your skin. That’s why over the last decade, I’ve dedicated my time to building a strong workforce development program that helps local residents overcome barriers to employment, education, and other opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them.
I’ll take that same focus to the City Council and serve as a bridge between our community and the Council, and make sure everyone — not just the well-off or connected — gets a fair shot. This moment calls for collaboration, not more backroom deals, so every voice is lifted up and heard. That’s how we’ll advance real justice and build a truly equitable future where everyone has the opportunity to not just survive, but thrive.
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? For me, the challenges facing us aren’t just rhetorical — they are deeply personal. We deserve leaders who are accessible and accountable to deliver real results for everyone who calls our neighborhoods home. I know I will be the strongest voice for residents and help to build coalitions with other council members and leaders in the community. I grew up here and know this community like the back of my hand. I don’t view people as “voters” — they are neighbors and friends and family. As a longtime advocate on issues impacting Detroiters, I have the perspective and drive needed to be a strong voice for all residents of the 6th District’s vibrant neighborhoods on the City Council.
My top priority is working for the people and championing a more just, prosperous, equitable future for everyone in our community. For too long we have been disregarded and disenfranchised. If elected, I will prioritize building economic opportunity, public safety, and justice reforms.
How would you address that issue? Increase access to trade skills and build/strengthen relationships
If I have the honor to serve, I will always put the people first. That starts with building sustainable, equitable economic opportunity that fosters entrepreneurship, supports small businesses, invests in local infrastructure, and promotes workforce training and development for all residents, regardless of background or zip code.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? I disagreed with the Mayor’s first Blight Bond proposal which was weighted too much toward removing blight in the neighborhoods. I felt it did not have enough focus on preserving the vacant houses which can be restored to be made available as affordable housing for Detroiters. His second proposed bond known as Proposal N was much improved and had my support.
Regardless of policy differences, this moment, as we come out of the covid crisis and look to the future, calls for collaboration to get things done for the people. On issues of disagreement, we do not need more political games or finger-pointing — especially after years of insiders saying ‘my way or no way.’ The people deserve leaders who are willing to work together to actually get things done on the issues impacting their daily lives.
Candidate did not respond to survey request. View campaign website.
Current job: Community Liaison, Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA)
Education: Attended Eastern Michigan University, Political Science, Wayne County Community College, Liberal Arts
About Fred Durhal: From January 2015 to January 2019, I served as State Representative for Michigan’s 5th House District. During my tenure, I served as the Assistant Democratic Leader of the House in my first term. In my second term, I served as the Minority Vice-Chair of the House Appropriations Committee (Ranking Democrat). I am the proud sponsor of Public Act 111 of 2016, over 20 pieces of legislation, and the Co-Sponsor of many Public Acts. I have been on the front line to work for solutions of some of our State’s most pressing issues such as the Flint Water Crisis, and the DPSCD Rescue Plan to prevent Detroit Public Schools from bankruptcy. I have worked to protect close to $790 million dollars of Revenue Sharing that was threatened to be cut, delivered over $100,000 dollars to local community groups, fought to save programs for our youth and seniors, and passed laws that protected our citizens. I possess legislative acumen and a keen understanding of how to make policy that benefits our state, city, and citizens. Additionally, my budgeting acumen affords me a deep understanding of state, county and municipal finance and understanding the importance of maintaining a balanced budget that is fiscally responsible.
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am seeking the office of Detroit City Council for District 7 because our district needs experience, integrity, and a vision to improve the lives of residents. After speaking with many community leaders about their concerns and their desire for me to represent them on the Detroit City Council, I decided to announce my candidacy. City Council District 7 has many challenges, and many residents feel forgotten. The challenges possessed by District 7 need to be met with comprehensive solutions that will stabilize neighborhoods, create jobs, foster an environment conducive for economic development and small business, address Detroit’s housing crisis, and address the intergenerational poverty that exists for our residents. As Detroit grows, there is a need for leadership that ensures that Detroit remains fiscally stable and services for residents are maintained.
“I am seeking the office of Detroit City Council for District 7 because our district needs experience, integrity, and a vision to improve the lives of residents.” — Fred Durhal
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? There are many issues that are facing Detroit that need to be addressed and require the utmost leadership and vision to solve. One of the most pressing issues facing Detroit currently is the stabilization of its neighborhoods. There are many components that contribute to this issue:
- Intergenerational Poverty
- Affordable Housing and Home Repair
- Abandonment, Blight, and Illegal Dumping
- Public Safety
How would you address that issue? To address neighborhood stabilization, each component that contributes to a stabilized neighborhood must be tackled. Suggested solutions for each component is as follows:
Intergenerational Poverty: Two-thirds of Detroiters live in poverty or have an income less than the AMI of $28,000 (Detroit Free Press, 2021). Addressing intergenerational poverty is a solution that will not be quickly realized, however, increased funding in programs that close the wealth gap is necessary. Utilizing the city budget, there must be an increase in funding to provide wrap-around services to those in need. These wrap-around services include access to public health care and local health clinics for preventative care, educational and financial literacy programs, and programs that link low-income Detroiters to State and Federal funds that provide assistance.
Unemployment: We must get Detroiter’s back to work. This involves creating more jobs for citizens and programs for apprenticeship, skilled trades, and preparing our residents for the jobs of the future. Continued investment in programs such as Detroit Works, will assist with preparing our citizens. Entrepreneurship is also an important component. The encouragement for Detroiters to start their own business not only bring fresh ideas, but it also creates an avenue where local Detroiters can hire other Detroiters. Additionally, increasing economic development, small business growth, and creating commercial empowerment zones that provide access to retail and community accessibility will assist with lower the unemployment rates in Detroit.
Affordable Housing and Home Repair: Detroit faces a serious housing crisis. This crisis involves housing that is affordable for residents and the ability to repair homes that are structural damaged. Housing instability in the City of Detroit is a serious issue. With nearly 10,000 of Detroit’s 22,000 affordable housing units set to expire by 2023 when low-income housing tax credits expire, the threat of homelessness is severe. Additionally, more than 3,500 Detroiters requested rental payment assistance in Michigan in 2021. Detroiters contribute 48% of their income to housing (Detroit Free Press, 2021). Housing is considered affordable when it consumes less than 30% of household income.
The development of new housing and development in communities that contain vacant Land Bank-owned properties are needed. Creating an environment that attracts developers and is conducive for them to build housing is imperative. These developments should provide increased percentages of low-income housing while utilizing federal and state LIHTC credits to spark new development. Increased advocacy for more affordable housing units and development within the City of Detroit and working to create programs that assist renters in becoming homeowners will assist in stabilizing communities. Additionally, creating programs that allow legacy Detroiter’s preference and access to Land Bank-owned properties will assist with populating neighborhoods. Residents would not only receive preference, but the city could create a low-cost and low-interest loan that would be provided to them if they could not afford to directly bid for the home.
As it relates to home repair, I will work to create a program that will give tax credits to contractors who voluntarily repair the homes of our senior citizens. This program would only allow certified and qualified contractors to perform work, and after work is completed a tax credit will be issued. Further, establishing a City tool rental program that also provides access to building materials for those who can fix up their homes assists homeowners. Often, many residents want to fix their homes themselves, however, they do not have the necessary funding for resources or tools. Finally, the creation of a competitive grant-funded city neighborhood enhancement program where community groups can apply and repair several homes throughout their communities can be fast-tracked. This program would be funded through the city budget and allow up to 10 communities per year to apply for the grant.
Abandonment, Blight, and Illegal Dumping: The issues of abandonment and blight must be a priority. In District 7, particularly, there are many abandoned homes, dilapidated structures, and blight is a significant problem. Assessing what homes should be demolished or rehabbed is the primary step. Second, the utilization of increased funding from Proposal N must be targeted in areas that that are in most need. Finally, investing in mechanisms that assist with reducing illegal dumping is necessary. Programs should be established in the City of Detroit encouraging residents to report offenders who dump in our communities. This program should contain a reward program for citizens who report offenses. Additionally, in areas that have Green Light capability, there should be an increased presence in alleyways and corridors. Working in conjunction with DPD, an enforcement patrol team should be deployed in areas that are known for illegal dumping.
Public Safety: Providing better public safety, increased police response time, and improving police/community relations by establishing programs for implicit bias and sensitivity training is a priority. Our city needs an increased oolice presence, particularly in the neighborhoods as speeding in residential areas has increased. Increased funding and raising the pay of officers so that it is commensurate to other municipalities throughout our state and country, will increase attraction and retention of officers. The increased presence allows the DPD the opportunity to assist more in neighborhoods with the issues such as speeding, illegal dumping, other crime issues. Additionally, as we face police/community relations issues around the globe, there should be more of an effort to create implicit bias training, sensitivity training, and accountability programs within the department.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with?
Mayoral Administration: While there are many mayoral agenda items that I agree have improved our city, I have historically disagreed with the mayoral agenda and support of the D-Insurance Plan that advocated to change Michigan’s No-Fault Insurance Policy. While I believe the Mayor and I shared a common interest in ensuring that Detroiters receive fair and affordable car insurance rate relief, we disagreed on the method in which it could have been achieved.
City Council: While I am appreciative, agree, and commend much of the hard work and decisions that our Council has made, I disagree with the lack of funding and resources that have been deployed within the city budget for District 7. The lack of resources mentioned includes but are not limited to:
- A focused and concerted effort to prioritize funding for the demolition and rehabilitation of structures within District 7, as it is one of the hardest-hit districts.
- Limited funding for parks and the building of a recreational center within the District.
- Limited funding and deployment of speed bumps within the neighborhoods of District 7.
- Limited revitalization and development of commercial and retail corridors within District 7.
Current job: President of Detroit’s Community Advisory Council and Certified Teacher with the Detroit Public Schools.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree Wayne State University, Master’s Degree Education Wayne State University, Master’s Degree Administration/Design Instructional Technology Wayne State University, Ashwood University Online Educational Specialist Doctoral of Education
About Regina Ross: I am currently elected to District 7’s Community Advisory Council, serving as President; assisting residents of Detroit. As a certified teacher, I serve young children, youth, and adults in Detroit, developing great minds, positive dispositions, and assisting learners with academic achievements. I have been named Teacher of the Year on 3 occasions. Being President of the BCP block club, I assist neighbors with community needs, opportunities and news. I am dedicated to families, politics, community, faith, and educational services. One fond memory of assisting others in the community was being honored by Oprah Winfrey for extraordinary community work and teaching. The honor included a two-week vacation with her in Los Angeles and Australia. I was given a “charge” by Oprah to continue serving others in the community. Oprah stated, “Do not stop here, continue to rise higher”.
Currently, I am the Director of “Keri Korner” Community Group. Other Director and Coordinator positions I have held were with Detroit Public Schools and Wayne State University. Other political positions I serve on are Precinct Delegate, Statutory Executive Board Member of the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party. Board Member of Detroiter’s United LLC, and Representative (Statewide) of the Progressive Caucus for 13th District.
Why are you running for Detroit City Council? I am running for City Council to represent the people of our City. I will be a voice for the people, making correct and fair decisions. I bring skills in negotiations, budgeting, managerial, director, and coordinating program skills. As a Leader, Business Owner, Director, and Union Representative, I have obtained budgeting analysis, negotiation, business operational, and financial skills. I am running for City Council to bring good representation to our Detroit City Council.
”I will be a voice for the people, making correct and fair decisions.” — Regina Ross
What is the most important issue facing Detroit? The most important issue facing Detroit the Quality of Life. Detroit is one of the poorest cities in America. Cleveland, Ohio is poorer than Detroit by less than one percent. Underemployment and unemployment, a lack of health benefits, affordable housing, clean water, Flooding streets, basements, and higher wages for the employed residents.
How would you address that issue? I will address these issues through the Community Benefits Agreement. If businesses give the community monies due to neighborhoods, we will be able to lift one of the poorest cities in America.
What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? There are many items of disagreement. Let’s start with facial recognition, over taxation, flooding streets, basements, lack of affordable employment and houses among other items.